Lavender Daughter. Submitted photos

Best Picks: Feb. 22–March 7

Updated: July 24, 2018 - 1:08 pm

What to do downtown after work

The endless blue

“Don’t be afraid of the wave and where the wave might take you,” begins the debut album of Twin Cities-based gritty surf band Lavender Daughter.

The line, the first of the self-titled record’s intro tune “Blue,” sets the listener up for an oceanic journey. The soundtrack to this ocean comes from core members Seth Hynes-Marquette (drums, backing vocals), Kalee Joy (vocals, guitar) and Lucas John Beach (vocals, percussion).

The three McNally Smith College of Music alumni have been playing together for roughly four years now, but if you asked the group a couple of years ago when they were planning to release their debut record, they might’ve said never. Like Fleetwood Mac, one of their biggest inspirations, the wave took Lavender Daughter through choppy waters.

“You could see it on our previous tours. We just looked like we hated each other. This record is about our troubles together and mending the ties,” Joy said.

“I honestly thought that things were so tumultuous that [I thought,] ‘Oh my God, is this band going to break up? Am I going to lose my band?” Hynes-Marquette said. “Now we’re producing more than ever.”

Lavender Daughter 12 submitted photo webAfter writing and recording the 14-track record in Joy’s East St. Paul apartment, the three can talk about it frankly. It comes through on the album, which delves into the murkiness of real life and relationships. These aren’t story-book romances from countless love songs but lives where things aren’t easy and no one is telling you how to feel. You’re swimming in open water and you don’t have your bearings.

Joy’s soulful voice sounds earnestly innocent on her verses on the pop-infused “Run,” one of the band’s oldest songs, even when she’s threatening to bury a relationship at a crossroads (“If you want to go / let me know / If you want to stay / come my way / but if we’re done / you better run,” Beach sings).

Beach, who trades leading vocals with Joy throughout the album, grits through a weak moment on “Prom King,” which deals with the emotional rush of a fling you sought with someone who isn’t your knight in shining armor (“I begged you to take off your crown / I let you hurt me”). What about when your mind can’t catch up to body chemistry, such as with the similarly nuanced “Electricity,” a spicy song on the band’s grungier side (“Would you turn me on? / I can’t tell what’s right / Can’t tell if you’re wrong / Oh, but you turn me on”).

The album closes on “Surf Cop,” the beachiest of the bunch and a tongue-in-cheek tune about a board shorts-clad cop combing the shore like he’s Poseidon, backed by bright guitars that come in like King Ghidora’s screeches — though Hynes-Marquette adds his own roars.

Lavender Daughter. Submitted photos
Lavender Daughter. Submitted photos

Joy said the album, engineered and mastered by Anthony Cadiz, was recorded live and is a good representation of their live performance.

“I wanted it to feel like it was living and breathing in your arms. I felt like if we had just recorded with a click [track] in a studio it would’ve felt robtronic,” she said.

When the trio listened to the album for the first time, they cried. That chapter behind them and documented in music the band wrote together, Lavender Daughter says there is a lot more on the way. Waves work in mysterious ways and you realize your heart is bigger than you thought.

“I know it sounds trite, but it meant a lot to me to figure that out because of how emotional and personal these songs are,” Beach said. “Surrendering to change is really hard, but there’s beautiful things at the end of it.”

Lavender Daughter will play a release show on Thursday, March 1 at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry. Openers include local bands Boomtown Riot (featured in our Oct. 19, 2017 issue) and Shadow Party.

A food journey to Japan

If you’ve tried out the authentic, ingredient-forward dishes of Kado no Mise and want the next level of the Japanese dining experience, then take the stairs a level up.

KAISEKI FURUKAWA webOn the other end of the building from a second-story whiskey bar, named Gori Gori Peku (whiskey lovers, take note), chef Shigeyuki Furukawa has crafted a tasting menu unlike any other in the city, state or even the region. Kaiseki Furukawa is a clean, minimalist expression of Japanese tea ceremonies dating back centuries. Each intricate plate of the 10-course kaiseki menu is the chef’s interpretation of the exact moment in time, told through the lens of Japanese traditions.

To celebrate a recent birthday, I made it to the restaurant. The menu will change with time, so it’s not important to delve into each course, but what I can say is that few dining establishments can tell a story through food like Kaiseki Furukawa. Broths come out with little color, but the most surprising and bold flavors. Subtle dishes tell stories of the Japanese New Year with gold leaf and traditional ingredients. Sake and wine pair beautifully with several courses, often adding to the canvas with flavors developed as far back as the 16th century. Some of those sake breweries go back a while, I’m told.

I’m not sure what your food budget is, but this meal isn’t for a casual night out. With tax and tip, it will set you back nearly $170 a person before you even have a glass of wine (pairings will run you another $60 per person, plus tax and tip). It pays to serve a truly one-of-a-kind dining experience, and if that’s what you’re looking for, the hefty price tag is all the more manageable. Dinner is available on Friday and Saturday after 5 p.m.